Chairman urges supporters to keep backing struggling ’Dogs

BATLEY chairman Kevin Nicholas has appealed for fans to stay positive as the Bulldogs aim to halt an alarming dip in form at a crucial time of the season.

John Kear’s side travel to Odsal on Sunday (3pm) to face joint Championship leaders Bradford Bulls on the back of a six-game losing run that has seen them slump to second bottom in the table, with only one win in the last 12.

A poor performance on the road at Whitehaven last Sunday left many fans frustrated and disappointed, prompting chairman Nicholas to issue a plea for supporters to keep backing the Bulldogs.

On the club’s website he said: “We took some great support to Whitehaven ... those supporters would have left very disappointed at the result and especially the performance.

“The board are supporters and feel exactly the same. I for one do not know where that performance came from after two excellent displays the week before against full-time teams.

“We have 12 games to go before the end of the season, but in reality we need to go into the last seven games when the league splits on a high note, which means we have to improve and get some wins over the next five games to get ourselves in a position we can build on.

“The players and coaching staff need to pick themselves up this week as the next two weeks are vital in the process of turning the season round.

“To those supporters that went to Whitehaven and are sticking by us, I thank you for your continued support in difficult circumstances and to those supporters frustrated and finding it hard to be positive, I understand your position.

“The only thing I can say is that as a club we will work harder to get back on track.” Coach Kear, meanwhile, is still confident that Batley can pull away from danger at the bottom of the Kingstone Press Championship, with five matches to go before the competition splits into the ‘Super Eights’.

“We’ve got to believe we can get back on track,” he said. “There were some very good individual performances that we can take heart from, but also some woeful ones which need addressing.”

Tom Lillycrop will be unavailable for Sunday’s trip to Bradford after taking the option of an early guilty plea following his red card against Leigh two weeks ago.

Lillycrop, who received a one-match ban from the RFL, is the first player to be sent off during Kear’s tenure at Mount Pleasant.

Forward Keegan Hirst is also likely to miss the Bulls clash after sustaining elbow ligament damage in the loss at Whitehaven, while back-rower James Brown has re-signed at the Mount for the 2016 season.

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